Monday, September 24, 2012

Emptiness Filled

Hello Beautiful

In the past months of reflection I have been considering what it takes to create an incredible life.  I am blessed with so many great ingredients—solid friends, a good job, a loving family, and an incredible church.  I have a roof over my head, I eat as I desire, and there is never a dull moment.  And yet there are days when all of the blessings do not seem to be enough.  There are moments in life when I am left with a longing that I cannot seem to be filled.

We all have those moments when we lose our balance.  Whether it is the surreal notion of your youth passing through your fingers or a flash frame of lives dancing all around as your loneliness consumes you.  Our anxieties, insecurities, and struggles are magnified for a moment as we are lost to the world.  We feel trapped in a snow globe; isolated from all the connections that separate our humanity from the porcelain figurines. 

We even attract those to ourselves with similar hurts we are experiencing.  Our loneliness, brokenness, and struggles of self-worth are empathically amplified by those nearest to us.  Perhaps we are drawn to people with similar struggles because we long to fill the emptiness that is existent in our hearts.  This is the vacuous hole that is meant to be plugged by only one source.  A source greater than corporal means.  A self-existent and all sufficient I AM that meets all of our desires and longings.  An overflowing source of love and healing that spills into the lives of those around us.

As we venture forth in our lives we must remember that no person, no thing, no activity is fully satisfying.  Our satisfaction, self-confidence, and completeness comes from a different source.  A beautiful life is not simply one that has every earthly wish fulfilled.  It is one whose comprehension of the divine love powers its core like a nuclear reactor and radiates out to every aspect of their lives.  A volatile force that consumes everyone around them with wonder and joy.  An incredible, beautiful life.

You are beautiful.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sitting in a Park

Hello Beautiful

A grassy hill rolled down from under my feet like a velvet carpet.  In the distance the tree line protected this devoted place from the rush of roads, cars and busy people.  The skyline interrupted with towers attesting to our creativity, success and strength.  A low ceiling of clouds gave a sense of enclosed security; transforming the vast space into a comfortable living room. 

Kids playing. Dogs running. Teens skating.  Couples holding hands.  I have stepped into a scene from a movie, complete with a fly-by from a squadron of fighter jets in an airshow nearby.  It is here that stories are made and told.  As I sat conversing with a new friend a collision of past, present and future unfolded on this scenic stage.  A fairytale version of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” A laugh. A serious moment.  An awkward tale. All played out in the dance of a forming friendship.

There is a delicacy at the beginning of every relationship.  A ballet between snowflakes and warm hands.  Too quickly and the snow liquefies.  Too slowly and one fleetingly escapes the other.  A beautiful movement of control from the minds cautious walls to the hearts desire for acceptance. 

We were made for relationships.  Every time I am engaged in a new encounter with someone I am reminded of how critical relationships are to our humanity.  We crave people.  It was ingenious of God to place the desire for relationships fundamental in mankind.  Our love and desire for our fellow man is an illumination into how jealous our God is for us.  A miniscule portrayal of how much He wants us. A sampling of His unfathomable Love.

As any number of combinations of lives encircled me in the park—friends, lovers, widows, loners—I realized all were placed there by some relationship they experienced.  And each person a direct result of every individual they encountered.  Every possibility lays before you when you are sitting in a park.

You are Beautiful.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Romanticized Shield

Hello Beautiful

I sat outside a coffee shop in the center of town.  My iced chai tea ran low as open mic singers expressed their talents. Here I was reminded by a friend of an idea I had long since contemplated on relationships: responsibility.

The “church” (please note the informal lower case “c”) has long taught that dating is evil, one should court, guard your heart, guard the other person’s heart, kissing is bad, etc.  In general these are not bad ideas; but in taking them to a legalistic extreme we have caused more damage than good.  We placed the care of our connection on a set of guidelines and not on true relationship.  It is no wonder that most of our relationships—romantic, amicable, or familial—are in some state of brokenness.

My favorite is when someone tells me, “I don’t care what happens to me, I just want to guard their heart.”  What a crime to one’s soul.  Do you believe that an all-surpassing Love wants your heart trampled as you protect someone else?  God did not sent His Son to die for you so that you needlessly suffer your heart before others.   We have romanticized the idea of guarding another person’s heart.  It has been turned into a noble sacrifice we place on the altar of acceptance.  A sacrifice that was never in the plan.

I am clearly not condoning a flippant disregard for the emotions of another.  This is a reminder of your worth to your Creator.  In all your relationships, romantic or otherwise, you are only responsible for you (with some exceptions for children).  You only have control over your heart, your emotions, and your salvation.  When you pass from this earth you will answer for your life.  And yes, we will take responsibility for the things we did to others, but not their actions.  We need to cease taking responsibility for someone else’s heart when, if we are honest, we do not accept responsibility of our own. 

Each one of us holds a sword in one hand and a shield in the other.  One to fight, the other to protect. Shields are meant for the protection of one.  We cannot defend another without leaving ourselves exposed.  We can choose to team up our shields (marriage).  But to God you are worth more than just giving it away.  To Him you are beautiful.

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Shift in the Heart

Hello Beautiful

I sit in the living room with a house full of dishes and half eaten food; pillows strewn all over the floor and bed sheets waiting by the laundry doors.  Artifacts of a house full of guests the evening before.  I love having my home full of people as much as I enjoy the tranquility of its emptiness.

It is in these times of quiet that I reflex on the success of my character.  Was I a good host?  Did I say anything inappropriate?   What do I want to change in my life?  What have I tried to change unsuccessful? 

These questions are not new thoughts of mine.  What has changed in the last month is a shift in tactics to tackle these issues.  Over the years I have tried and written about many methods for change: going to war, quiet reflection, making a choice, etc.  All incredibly useful agents.  However I have been reading a lot about a new and powerful agent of change: Love. 

We all know love can cause us to do crazy things like go sky diving for a girl or go to war for ones country.  God’s Love for us sent a Savior to deliver us from the sinful things in our lives.  But there is another aspect of Love that is an untapped source for strength in change: our Love for God. 

HE LOVES US. There is no substitute for it.  It can never be overstated.  We can never fully comprehend it.  It envelopes us whether we realize it or not.  The questions is how much do we Love Him.  Are we lukewarm for Him or are we passionately in Love.  Be honest with yourself right now.  Some days my answer to that question is “Not that much.”  Other days it is “Whole heartedly.”  Lately, when I want to see change in my life I make a decision change will come because of my Love for God.  I will be a better friend, not for my own needs, choice or desire, but because I Love God and He Loves my friends.  I will win the battle against my flesh because I Love God.  I will excel at work because I Love God.

Love is a strong force. Use it to make changes in your life.  To become the person you want to be.   To see you are beautiful